Responsible Growth and Meeting Community Needs
People choose to live in New Castle County’s 6th District because of its exceptional quality of life. Residents value our suburban communities, towns, schools, open spaces, and our agricultural lands. They benefit from our growing economy and the conveniences it brings. However, many are also concerned that poorly planned growth and development will erode the quality of life they have enjoyed.
The 6th District is one of the most rapidly growing areas of New Castle County. A site-by-site development review, rather than a well-coordinated regional planning approach, is making traffic problems worse and contributing to inadequate community parks, overcrowded schools, and the need for a new library and improved public safety facilities. While addressing these problems cannot be achieved by the County Council alone, steps can be taken to promote growth that does not lead to a deterioration of the quality of life. This effort must start with improved comprehensive planning that engages our residents, and that is done in cooperation with town leaders, state officials, school districts and many others. New Castle County’s development plan lacks a clear vision that incorporates the hopes and desires of our residents with planning efforts that integrate land use, development, open space protection, public service needs, and impacts of transportation in our rapidly growing area.
Ensuring the responsible use of land is one of the most important roles of New Castle County government. This can be achieved by updating our comprehensive plan through a process that includes meaningful public engagement to create a shared vision for the entire county. As a long-time civic advocate with community development experience, David understands the complex and sometimes competing needs of the residents, town officials, and development community. He will work to ensure that resident concerns are heard and incorporated into long-range plans that balance the needs of the development community and diversify New Castle County’s tax base.
Economic Opportunity and Tax Fairness
The 6th District is a complex area that has seen some of the strongest economic growth in the County, much of which is occurring in Middletown, Townsend, & Smyrna. The 6th District is also experiencing extensive residential development, creating a tax base heavily reliant on residential property taxes to support our schools and services. This ongoing residential growth continues to threaten southern New Castle County’s robust agricultural economy. A more diverse tax base is needed that better balances residential, commercial, and other business property taxes.
New Castle County and the municipalities need to work more effectively together to realize the benefit from growth while minimizing growing pains, shoring up our farming and agricultural economy, and diversifying growth to include local employment opportunities. David understands that until we accomplish this goal, southern New Castle County won’t have a healthy and sustainable economy that works for all of us. He will work to ensure we have a well-balanced economy.
Conserving Open Space and Working Lands
The preservation of New Castle County’s vanishing farmland and natural areas are critically important, especially in Southern New Castle County where most of the county’s remaining rural land can be found. Conserving land is necessary to: support existing farms and businesses that support the agricultural community; provide opportunities for the emerging buy-local food movement; enhance ecotourism business opportunities; and maintain and enhance our quality of life. Open space is also critically important for providing habitat for birds and wildlife that many of us enjoy.
The 6th District is blessed with extensive areas of working land that provides sustainable jobs through farming and forestry while protecting some of the most valuable natural areas in the State of Delaware. Most notable are the extensive undeveloped forested land in the Blackbird-Millington Corridor and the Delaware Bayshore Area, areas that run along the Rt. 9 corridor and a swath of rural land from the Delaware River to Millington, Maryland.
Preserving farms and open space also saves money on infrastructure like roads, schools, and wastewater systems required for new development. By preserving targeted land areas, we can focus our infrastructure investments into designated growth zones ensuring public service needs are met more efficiently. David and his wife, Marjorie, permanently protected their farmland. David has also led government efforts to protect hundreds of acres of open space in the 6th District. He has the knowledge and experience to develop a cost-effective land conservation program in New Castle County.
Assisting Community Organizations
Communities throughout the 6th District face many problems that can be addressed through improved services. These include challenges such as addressing drainage issues, running a maintenance corporation, navigating government to get needed services like road repairs, managing open space and parks, and many others.
While these issues are present everywhere, it is particularly important to maintenance corporations established as part of New Castle County’s development code.
Since 1997, all residential land development in New Castle County has required setting aside open space and providing adequate controls for stormwater management. The responsibility for maintaining the private open space and common facilities resides with the homeowners, in the form of maintenance corporations that are run by local residents. These corporations oversee tens of thousands of dollars collected annually from homeowners. Frequently, the elected board members for these corporation shave limited expertise related to the maintenance work and responsibilities, resulting in failed infrastructure, fiscal mismanagement, inadequate land management, and community discord. Because of these issues, New Castle County government should play a larger role in the maintenance of community open space and facilities.
David has worked with dozens of community organizations, learning from these volunteers about the challenges they face. He will advocate for more assistance for administration of maintenance corporations, and innovative options to cost-effectively manage open space as natural habitat. He will also work to improve programs for management of stormwater facilities, drainage problems, and other community services necessary in New Castle County approved subdivisions.
Promoting Renewable Energy and Sustainability
To become a sustainable community, New Castle County must rethink the way energy is used, distributed, and generated. The County must also look more closely at the opportunities to promote renewable energy.
As an early adopter of solar energy, my wife and I have been generating about 90 percent of the energy our home uses since 2008. Support for more distributed renewable energy on homes, on formerly contaminated sites, on public buildings, in county parks, and in other areas of higher energy demand in New Castle County is needed. Distributed renewable energy works best when located where the energy load occurs. Siting renewable generation where energy load is highest provides significant efficiency advantages over more remote sites (such as Ag Land in the SR Zoning district) that require transmission of power over long distances and it helps balance the grid demand in high energy use areas (potentially reducing the need for rolling blackouts during excessively high energy consumption periods).
New Castle County can continue to review its code to promote the development of renewable energy and ensure this code is effectively implemented. For example, while state code prohibits newer maintenance corporations from prohibiting solar, many older communities were grandfathered and can still prohibit solar. The county should work to educate these older homeowners and urge them to remove any restrictions as part of the maintenance corporation assistance program.
To achieve this goal of sustainability, I propose that New Castle County develop a comprehensive community renewable energy plan as part of their land use planning efforts and their operation of county facilities. This plan would be an important part of a push toward sustainable NCC communities.
The purpose of a Community Energy Plan is to: define the renewable energy goals countywide; describe the energy policies needed to keep NCC economically competitive and environmentally committed; and to help ensure secure, clean energy sources for the future.
This plan will be developed to leverage Delaware’s Sustainable Energy Utility and other grant opportunities along with private investment to implement improvements at County facilities, in new developments, and for retrofits in established communities, businesses, or on properties of nonprofit entities
Showing Up and Advocating for Our Needs
It has been said that 90 percent of success is just showing up. David has many years of experience as a volunteer who has shown up at the county, state, and local meetings to advocate on behalf of the community. He has long found that one of the most enjoyable aspects of public service is being in the public arena to discuss and fight for the needs of the community. If elected, David looks forward to attending Council and committee meetings to help solve problems, and to advocate for everyone in the 6th District.
Good government starts with ethical leadership, openness, and transparency to better serve the public interest. David understands the importance of community engagement and government transparency. He is a long-time community advocate who has fought for more open and ethical government for years. David will work to ensure transparency and that there will be meaningful public engagement opportunities as issues are discussed by New Castle County Council.
To ensure good County Government, we must first ensure that people can understand what is going on and have meaningful ways to participate. This lack of openness can lead to misuse of public resources that benefit a few. Closed door dealings that can lead to cronyism and good ol’ boy favoritism must stop.
David feels that elected officials and public servants must uphold the highest ethical standards in return for being given the privilege to serve others as an elected member of County Council.
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